Updated: Sept. 17, 2018 at 4:49 p.m.
New Student Association leaders are trying to pick up where last year’s administration left off.
Three SA senators said they are planning to restart projects that SA leaders spearheaded last academic year but did not continue after leadership turnover. The senators said they intend to make the initiatives, most of which launched as pilot programs last academic year, outlast their tenure by instating the projects as administrator-supported fixtures of the University.
“I saw a lot of really great things get started in the SA during my time last year but maybe not necessarily get finished all the way through,” said Sen. Amy Martin, ESIA-U, who is working to revamp several initiatives. “Projects take more than one seated year in the SA.”
Martin said that as a freshman representative last academic year, she was paired with Logan Malik, the SA’s former vice president for undergraduate student policy, to work on projects like instituting a GWorld partnership with Hungry Harvest, a produce delivery service, and a paper-saving campaign.
The SA first collaborated with Hungry Harvest in January, adding the service to GWorld and allowing students to sign up in-person to receive boxes of produce.
Martin said that this year, students will be able to sign up for Hungry Harvest through the SA Facebook page or website instead of in-person to expand the hours that students can sign up for meals. She added that she’s working with Tara Scully, an assistant professor of biology, to help advertise the program to her students.
“Hopefully it will be part of the SA’s regular functioning – that’s my hope, that it’s something that outlasts me and Logan,” she said.
SA President Ashley Le said one of the group’s main goals this year is to establish Hungry Harvest as an official dining vendor, which she said officials like John Ralls, the director of communications and outreach for the Division of Operations, have been receptive to since the partnership relaunched this year.
“Seeing the success of the program last semester, I think they have a good reception about that,” she said, referring to officials.
SA senators and cabinet members have been enrolling students in Hungry Harvest at tables around campus for about two weeks since the academic year began.
People for Periods
Former SA President Peak Sen Chua said that after People for Periods – a campaign providing menstrual hygiene products in public campus bathrooms – launched last year, he advised current SA leaders to establish a sustained system for stocking bathrooms.
The program started in November as a joint effort between the Feminist Student Union, the University’s student-led food pantry and the SA.
“My role in creating People for Periods was to facilitate enthusiasm towards a good cause into something tangible – my role as a facilitator ended when I left office,” Chua said.
Le, the current SA president, said that at the end of last academic year, there were few volunteers involved to maintain the project, causing students to stock bathrooms on an irregular schedule. This year, Le said she wants students to stock shelves on a weekly instead of biweekly basis, which she said the SA has the “manpower” to do.
“It’s important to show students this is not just a one-time thing, it wasn’t just a project by one administration,” Le said.
Martin, the SA senator, said she is taking over the program this academic year. Martin said she anticipates that the project will be up and running by the end of the month, operated by SA senators, cabinet members and student organizations involved in its initial launch.
Martin said her long-term goal for the project is to institutionalize the program so it becomes the responsibility of officials instead of SA leaders, adding that schools like Brown University have a permanent program similar to People for Periods.
“These are products that should be a given – they’re obviously not things we don’t need, they’re necessities,” Martin said.
Changing the nickname
Sen. Hayley Margolis, CCAS-U, said she’s planning to restart advocacy work to change the University’s nickname from the Colonials to the hippos.
Students launched a petition last year calling to switch the nickname, saying the colonial is offensive to international students whose home countries could have experienced the effects of colonialism.
Margolis said she will continue conversations with officials to determine whether a name change is “feasible in the near future,” but hasn’t spoken with any officials yet.
“By the end of the year, almost everyone on campus is aware of our movement to change the team name and that we have a large following of GW community members passionate about hippo school pride,” Margolis said in an email.
Le, the SA president, released a statement after the petition reached 500 signatures in May, saying she would “consider available options” to change the mascot. Le said she is now in favor of changing the name after saying she didn’t have an official stance in her initial statement.
She said officials like M.L. “Cissy” Petty, the dean of the student experience, and Tanya Vogel, the athletics director, have been receptive to a potential name change, but they are unsure if alumni are also on board.
Sen. Rico Pride, CCAS-U, said he’s also taking over Hippo Day – a social event in Kogan Plaza celebrating GW’s unofficial mascot – which launched last academic year. Pride said that few students knew about Hippo Day before it happened but began to show interest after the SA had already hosted the event.
“There is tons of improvement to be done in terms of spaces and events where the GW community can come together,” Pride said in an email. “Hippo Day is one of the few moments during the academic year that is possible.”
Editor’s note: This post was updated to clarify a quote from Hayley Margolis.